Politics

After GOP Forces Runoff for Georgia House Seat, Trump Says Dems 'Failing'

President: Race now ‘Hollywood vs. Georgia’

Karen Handel, who faces Democrat Jon Ossoff in a runoff for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District seat, speaks with diners during a campaign stop at Rhea's restaurant in Roswell, Ga., on Monday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Hours after Republicans held off a Democratic bid to take over a long-safe GOP Georgia House seat, President Donald Trump says the outcome shows Democrats are “failing.”

Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff fell about two percentage points shy of hitting the 50 percent threshold he needed to take the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District on Tuesday outright. He now will face Karen Handel, a former GOP Georgia secretary of state who led Republican candidates with just under 20 percent of the tally, in a runoff.

The narrow loss is the second recently by Democrats in what was believed to be deep red territory. GOP State Treasurer Ron Estes earlier this month defeated Democrat James Thompson by 6 points in a race for the 4th Congressional District seat in Kansas.

[Schumer Joins Calls for President to Release Tax Returns]

Like he did following Estes’ victory, Trump took a victory lap on Twitter. And early Wednesday morning, he even took some of the credit.

Around 9 a.m., the president tweeted that Democrats “failed” in the Kansas race and “are now failing in Georgia.” He congratulated Handel, and described her coming one-on-one race with Ossoff as “Hollywood vs. Georgia on June 20th.” (Some Hollywood celebrities offered their services on Ossoff’s behalf in the special election.)

Earlier Wednesday, at 12:09 a.m. after major news organizations had called the race, the president fired off a tweet saying despite a haul of “outside money” and “FAKE media support” amid a crowded GOP field, Handel had pulled off a “BIG ‘R’ win.” And Trump let the world know he played a role — via a robocall and tweets — writing this: “Glad to be of help!”

Though Trump is celebrating, some pundits say the close margins in the Georgia and Kansas special elections — both in Republican territory — show Democrats have some hope to substantially shrinking the GOP’s House majority or even winning back control. The GA-06 race had become largely a referendum on Trump’s first 89 days.

Handel tweeted Wednesday morning that the president called to congratulate her.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.